Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

CDC releases preliminary data on 2009 H1N1 vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 4, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT VACCINE CENTRAL

As part of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report titled “Preliminary Results: Surveillance for Guillain-Barré Syndrome After Receipt of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine — United States, 2009–2010“.  This publication reports on an analysis of preliminary data, the focus of which was to look for any signs of increased risk of GBS rates among individuals receiving the 2009 monovalent H1N1 vaccine in the United States.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder (affecting about 1.65 and 1.79  in 100,000)  in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. On some occasions, it has been  identified to be triggered by surgery or vaccination. For example, as has been widely reported, especially by the anti-vaccination crowd, the 1976 influenza A (H1N1) vaccine was associated with a statistically significant increased risk for GBS of over 10 cases per million, and it appears that some vaccines may account for a slight overall increase in GBS risk.

Given the history with the 1976 H1N1 vaccine, the CDC has been closely monitoring the 2009 H1N1 vaccines, through its Emerging Infections Program (EIP) since October 2009.  Preliminary results of this analysis show an excess of 0.8 cases of GBS for 1,000,000 vaccinations, similar to the rate for seasonal influenza vaccines. If this holds up when the full review is released some time in the Fall of 2010, it would mean that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will be associated with an 8% increase over the expected GBS rate of 1 in 100,000.

To put things in perspective, while the H1N1 vaccine may be associated with less than 1 additional case of GBS per million vaccines, the disease it protects from, H1N1 influenza has been associated with 9.7 deaths per million. According to Wikipedia, 80% of GBS patients recover fully, which means that of the 0.8 additional cases per million vaccination, only about 0.16 will have permanent effects (including paralysis and death). To put this further into perspective, if this association holds, we should expect about 16 cases of additional GBS with permanent side effects, for every 100,000,000 vaccinations. At the same time the death rate from influenza A (H1N1) would be at about 970. And if that is not enough perspective, according to this study, the mortality rate, at least for the period 2000-2004 was at 2.58 %, whereas Wikipedia estimates overall mortality rate to be at around 4%. Using the larger number, the 4% from Wikipedia, if the association holds at the same level, we would expect an additional 3.2 vaccine induced GBS deaths versus 970 influenza H1N1 deaths, per 100 million people.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT VACCINE CENTRAL

Swine flu: Eight myths that could endanger your life

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 29, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT NEWSCIENTIST

The second wave of the swine flu pandemic is now under way in the northern hemisphere. Case numbers are climbing fast and in some places vaccination has begun.

So what’s the big deal? The virus hasn’t evolved into the monster that some feared and most cases are mild. Were all those pandemic warnings just scare-mongering?

The Butcher family of Southampton, UK, wouldn’t say so. In August, their daughter Madelynne, 18, became sick and short of breath after returning from a holiday. Two weeks later, she died in hospital.

Neither would the Parker family of Baltimore, Maryland. In September, their healthy 14-year-old daughter Destinée started having trouble breathing within minutes of arriving at school. She was rushed to hospital. A week later she was dead.

There has been complacency-mongering, too. This pandemic is very far from the worst-case scenario, but it is not normal flu either. Many more people than usual will catch flu this year. The vast majority will be fine but some of us, including young, otherwise healthy people, will die. You can help protect yourself and your family by learning the latest on swine flu, from how to spot a serious case to the facts about the vaccines.

MYTH 1

The symptoms are like regular flu. You’ve got it if you’ve got a fever

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT NEWSCIENTIST


Swine Flu Vaccine Fears Debunked

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 23, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT DISCOVERY NEWS

Oct. 23, 2009 — With school closings, a run on face masks, and even a flu-tracker iPhone app, it’s clear that swine flu is taking the country by storm.

As of this month, the flu, now called the 2009 H1N1 influenza, was widespread among people of all ages in 41 states, and it has been reported in all 50. Numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are unusually high for this time of year. And the situation is likely to get worse.

To stem the pandemic, the U.S. government is urging just about everyone older than 6 months to get the H1N1 vaccine as doses of the shot and nasal spray eventually become available for more than just high-risk groups.

Yet, while some people are waiting for hours in line to get themselves or their children vaccinated, others are avoiding it — convinced that the H1N1 vaccine is unnecessary or even unsafe. Scientists are fighting hard to tackle those misconceptions.

“These are urban myths and you can’t even track them down,” said Greg Poland, Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn. “Someone says something that spreads virally from person to person and becomes truth in their minds.”

Here are expert answers to some of the most common concerns.

Concern #1: Swine flu is no big deal. It’s just another example of media hype.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT DISCOVERY NEWS